By Mark DeCambre and William Watts, MarketWatch
Treasury prices pared modest gains Wednesday, leaving yields slightly lower, after minutes of the Federal Reserve's December policy meeting highlighted some division over the central bank's forecast for three rate increases in 2018.
What are Treasurys doing?
The 2-year note yield , which is the most sensitive to shifts in interest-rate expectations, edged up 1.2 basis point to 1.935%. The short bond has been up 12 of the past 16 trading sessions, according to WSJ Market Data Group.
The 10-year Treasury yield fell 2 basis points to 2.445%. The yield of the benchmark bond has been down four of the past six trading sessions.
The 30-year bond yield slipped 2.9 basis points to 2.782%, and has fallen in six of the past eight trading days.
Bond prices move inversely to yields.
What's driving the market?
The minutes unveiled two camps, both uncomfortable with the Fed's December forecast of three rate increases in 2018--with one faction worried the pace might be too aggressive, while another feared it would be too slow.
Read:Fed minutes show divide over forecast of three rate hikes this year (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/fed-minutes-show-divide-over-its-own-forecast-of-three-rate-hikes-this-year-2018-01-03)
According to CME Group data, market participants are expecting the next rate increase, after the Fed's recent quarter-percentage point increase to a range between 1.25% and 1.5%, to occur in March.
What has been viewed as muted moves in Treasury yields come as the dollar, as gauged by the ICE U.S. Dollar Index , has been near its lows for September at 92.07, despite tax-cut legislation and other fiscal stimulus measures which were expected to boost the buck. The dollar regained some ground on Wednesday, extending gains in the wake of the minutes.
Traders also focused on geopolitics, as thousands of people took to the streets of Iran on Wednesday, voicing support for Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, following what has been the largest wave of antigovernment unrest in almost a decade (https://www.wsj.com/articles/economics-dissatisfaction-with-current-regime-fuel-iran-protests-1514679332).
Meanwhile, North Korea reopened communications with its neighbor the South, highlighting signs of relaxed tensions on the Korean Peninsula (https://www.wsj.com/articles/north-korea-revives-hotline-for-talks-with-south-1514957698).
What does the data show?
The December Institute for Supply Management manufacturing index came in at 59.7% (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/us-manufacturing-surges-in-december-ism-shows-2018-01-03), up from 58.2% in November and marking the strongest year for the activity gauge since 2004, according to FactSet. A figure above 50% indicates activity is expanding.
The Commerce Department said construction spending rose 0.8% (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/construction-spending-throttles-past-expectations-in-november-led-by-residential-building-2018-01-03) in November, surpassing expectations for a 0.5% rise.
What are strategists saying?
The December ISM reading "is the thin air of the high peaks," wrote Wells Fargo economists John Silvia and Tim Quinlan, in a note. "It is quite uncommon for the ISM index to remain so firmly in expansion territory for such a long period. The only other time in the past 40 years that the ISM came in at 58 or higher for this many consecutive months was a streak that lasted from November 2003 to August 2004."
"Overall, Fed officials re-affirmed at this meeting that they anticipate raising interest rates three times in 2018, matching the tightening in 2017, but we still anticipate that a slightly faster than expected rebound in core inflation will mean we eventually see four rate hikes in 2018," said Paul Ashworth, chief U.S. economist at Capital Economics in a Wednesday note following the release of minutes.
What other assets are in focus?
The German 10-year bond yield, known as the bund , and serving as a proxy for the health of the eurozone economy, was at 0.439%, versus 0.433% on Tuesday.
-Mark DeCambre; 415-439-6400; AskNewswires@dowjones.com
(END) Dow Jones Newswires